Original Research - Special Collection: Trinity

Die trinitariese formule van Matteus 28:19: Fremdkörper of gepaste afsluiting vir die Matteusevangelie?

Hermias C. van Zyl
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2673 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2673 | © 2022 Hermias C. van Zyl | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2022 | Published: 15 December 2022

About the author(s)

Hermias C. van Zyl, Department of Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


The trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:19: Fremdkörper or an appropriate conclusion? The aim of the article is to investigate whether the trinitarian formula of Matthew 28:19 (‘… baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …’) is a Fremdkörper (foreign body) in the Gospel of Matthew or a meaningful ending to the Gospel. To achieve this, the following aspects were investigated: The tradition history of the formula; Matthew 28:16–20 forming the immediate context of the formula; and the trinitarian notion within the wider context of Matthew’s Gospel. The latter aspect required the following texts to be examined: The heavenly genealogy of Jesus (1:1–25); the baptism of Jesus (3:13–17); the transfer of power to the Son in 11:27; and the trinitarian baptismal formula of 28:19 becoming a ‘replacement’ for the baptismal activity of John the Baptist in Matthew. The conclusion of the study is that the trinitarian formula of 28:19 is not an afterthought to the Gospel but was carefully prepared by Matthew in his Gospel narrative. It thus forms one of the ‘logical highpoints’ of the Gospel that inaugurated the discipling of the nations.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The most prominent interdisciplinary implication is the interplay between exegesis and dogmatics. Matthew 28:19 often functions in dogmatic works as ‘prooftext’ for the Trinity in the New Testament. However, my contribution shows that this verse does not yet comprise a full dogma of the Trinity. But that Matthew did think trinitarian, is beyond doubt.


Matthew 28:19; Matthew 28:16–20; Trinitarian baptismal formula; Trinity in Matthew; tradition history of baptismal formula; heavenly genealogy of Jesus; baptism of Jesus; Matthew 11:27; baptismal practice of John the Baptist in Matthew.

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